10 October 2014

Review: THE SOUND OF THINGS FALLING, Juan Gabriel VÃsquez (Author)

  • format: Kindle (Amazon)
  • File Size: 1338 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1594487480
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (November 16, 2012)- originally published 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Translated by Anne McLean
  • ASIN: B0093K1ILS
Synopsis (Amazon)

No sooner does he get to know Ricardo Laverde in a seedy billiard hall in Bogota than Antonio Yammara realises that the ex-pilot has a secret.

Antonio's fascination with his new friend's life grows until the day Ricardo receives a mysterious, unmarked cassette. Shortly afterwards, he is shot dead on a street corner.

Yammara's investigation into what happened leads back to the early 1960s, marijuana smuggling and a time before the cocaine trade trapped Colombia in a living nightmare.

My take

The publisher's synopsis really gives the potential reader no indication of the nature of this novel.

When Ricardo Laverde is shot dead on a street corner of Bogota, Antonio Yammara is shot too. He survives the injury and eventually surfaces with a need to know why the murder took place.  He is eventually contacted by Laverde's daughter who has collected documents that fill in the gaps.

This is an engrossing read with some memorable episodes such as the time in 1938 when an aerial display goes horribly wrong. A military review involving a spectacular fly past results in the fiery deaths of over fifty spectators. Both this event and the crash of American Airlines 965 are significant in the story and are based on real events.

The story also provides an arresting commentary on the part played by members of the American Peace Corps in the establishment of the Colombian drug trade.

The novel goes beyond the bounds of crime fiction, into more literary and philosophical areas, into the history of Colombia, and into effects on the current generation of the events of the last 40 years.

I have read this for my final South American title for the 2014 Global Reading Challenge.
It is also my final title for the challenge.

My rating: 4.7

November 16, 2012
Winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2014
Winner of the Alfaguara Prize 2011

Winner of the Gregor von Rezzori Prize 2013
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2013

About the author: see Wikipedia

2 comments:

noirencyclopedia said...

I have to say that you obviously liked this one a lot better than I did. While I found it had plenty of good things, I just didn't feel it held together. For me it was something like a 2.5-out-of-five-stars. Sorry!

I know it got a lot of rave reviews, so I'm probably just the odd one out.

Margot Kinberg said...

Kerrie - It does sound like an interesting look at a bit of history that isn't as well known as it might be. Thanks as ever for your review.

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